A funeral Mass for Msgr. Charles J. Forst will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday, June 19, at St. Mark Church, 8300 Morganford Road in Affton.
Msgr. Forst, the longest tenured priest of the archdiocese, died June 13 at age 95.
Msgr. Forst was ordained in 1945 and was the last surviving priest to be ordained by Cardinal John J. Glennon. He was known as a humble, gracious and enthusiastic man who was a model of service into his mid-90s. He served in retirement at Most Precious Blood Parish in south St. Louis County and at St. Mark from 1996 until a recent illness.
Born in Richmond Heights in 1921, Msgr. Forst was one of eight children. He was raised in St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Richmond Heights. That's where he said he heard the call to the priesthood. After graduating from St. Luke School, Msgr. Forst attended the Cathedral Latin School for two years. He also attended St. Louis Preparatory Seminary before moving on to Kenrick Seminary.
Religious vocations ran in the Forst family. Msgr. Forst had an older brother, retired Bishop Marion F. Forst, who was ordained for St. Louis, and served in the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, then later as bishop for Dodge City, Kan., and Kansas City, Kan. A younger brother, Father William L. Forst, also ordained for St. Louis, served in the Diocese of Jefferson City.
Msgr. Forst's assignments included assistant pastor at Holy Rosary in north St. Louis, Blessed Sacrament in north St. Louis, St. Ann in Normandy and Christ the King in University City.
He also was pastor at Holy Angels in Kinloch, Resurrection in south St. Louis, Our Lady of Providence in Crestwood and pastor and retired priest at Precious Blood in south St. Louis County before it merged with two other parishes to form St. Mark Parish.
At Resurrection Parish, he took a census of the parish and became involved with an active Legion of Mary. Those interests carried over to his next assignment in 1984 at Our Lady of Providence.
"I would leave census cards with the families," he said in an article in the Review, adding that he would spend at least half an hour with each family and bless their homes. He called the effort an opportunity for evangelization. "We sure uncovered a lot of stuff," said Msgr. Forst. "Bad marriages, people not going to church. It was a wonderful way for a pastor to get to know his people."
Msgr. Forst served as a teacher at DeAndreis and McBride high schools early in his priesthood. He served on the Priests Council, the Annual Catholic Appeal board and Priests' Personnel Board. He was associated with the Legion of Mary for many years. A new church was built at Our Lady of Providence Parish while Msgr. Forst was pastor, and he shared his talents as a wood craftsman, making the cross for the life-size crucifix as well as the chairs for the sanctuary and the ambo.
He celebrated his 70th anniversary of ordination at a Mass at St. Mark Church in 2015. Msgr. Patrick Hambrough, pastor of St. Mark, called his service "a great gift of God" earlier writing that Msgr. Forst is a "special priest who graciously and steadfastly arises each morning to share the goodness of Christ."
Afterward, most of the people in the overfilled church waited in line to express their love and thanks for the active retiree who was known to draw three "smiley faces" to represent the Trinity when he visited students at the parish school.
Besides celebrating Mass and going on some sick calls, Msgr. Forst taught religion to kindergarten through third-grade students at St. Mark. He organized the school's annual Catholic Schools Week trivia contest with questions based on the faith.